ב׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ד (November 5, 2013)

Shekalim 18a-b: Proper Spending of Temple Donations

Money was collected for use in the Beit ha-Mikdash in different ways. The Mishna on our daf describes 13 collection boxes that were called shofarot, because they were shaped like a shofar with one end small enough for a coin to be placed into it and a larger end where the coins could be removed. (They were made in this way so that no one who came to deposit money would be suspected of stealing.) Each shofar was marked with the purpose of its money, so that no mistakes would be made. For example, one said “new shekalim” for the monies that were deposited for the fiscal year beginning in Nisan, one was marked “old shekalim” for the leftover monies from last year’s collection, etc.

The Mishna continues with a reference to one of the stories in the Tanakh where we hear about the collection of shekalim (II Melakhim12) in which King Yoash partnered with the Jehoiada in collecting money from the people and refurbishing the Temple.

This midrash was taught by Jehoiada the High Priest: There is an apparent contradiction between two verses. With regard to the guilt-offering, the verse states: “It is a guilt-offering; he is certainly guilty before the Lord” (Vayikra 5:19). This verse indicates that the guilt-offering goes to God, not the priests. However, a different verse states: “As is the sin-offering, so is the guilt-offering; there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it, he shall have it” (Leviticus 7:7). This verse indicates that the offering is designated for the priests alone. How can these two verses be reconciled?

The Mishna explains that this is the principle: Any funds that come due to a sin-offering or due to a guilt-offering, i.e., leftover coins designated for one of these offerings, they should be used for the purchase of animals for a voluntary burnt-offering, as the meat will be offered on the altar to God, and the hides will go to the priests. In this manner the two verses are found to be fulfilled, as it is both a guilt-offering to God as well as guilt-offering to the priest.

And this halakha also explains the verse that says: “The guilt-offering money and the sin-offering money was not brought into the House of the Lord; it was for the priests” (II Kings 12:17). This verse is understood to refer to the hides given to the priests.

Clearly the money must be spent on the sacrifices for which it was set aside. What this pasuk teaches is that extra money is given to the kohanim to purchase olot, rather than being given to the Temple treasury for use in refurbishing the Mikdash.

The question of how to make sure that money donated to the Temple was properly spent comes up a number of times in the Talmud. In Ketubot (106b), Rav Huna asks whether the keli sharet – the utensils used for the Temple service – were considered connected to the altar, and could be purchased from money set aside for bedek ha-bayit (money set aside for the Temple itself), or were they considered connected to the sacrifice and needed to be purchased from the terumat ha-lishka money (money set aside for communal sacrifices).

Rav answers that the utensils are made from terumat ha-lishka money.

Rav Huna then points to a pasuk that clearly describes leftover money collected by King Yoash and the High Priest Jehoiada being used for the keli sharet (see II Divrei ha-Yamim 24:14). Rav argues that that passage must be talking about a case where more money was collected than necessary, so the remaining money could be used for other purposes in the Temple, pointing out that the story, as related in Sefer Melakhim (II Melakhim 12:14-15) clearly says that the money collected for bedek ha-bayit was not used for making these utensils.

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